High street mobile stores will reopen in England from June 15 with operators introducing a range of safety measures to protect customers and staff.
All four major UK operators closed their retail locations in late March as the government imposed lockdown measures that resulted in the closure of non-essential retailers, restricted the movements of individuals, and enacted social distancing.
Since then, operators have relied heavily on their online customer service and sales operations. But in the background, there has also been work carried out to ensure that retail locations could open safely once they were allowed to do so.
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UK mobile stores
Last week, non-essential retailers in England were given the go ahead to re-open their doors provided they could do so safely.
O2 and EE have confirmed there will be limits on the number of customers that can be in a store at one time, with floor markings aiding social distancing. Virtual queue systems, screens at tills and protective equipment will be provided to staff, while regular cleaning will take place in order to minimise risk.
The retail team at O2 has also changed some store layouts in order to maximise limited floor space and will give NHS and care workers priority.
“Retail has changed in the wake of COVID-19, and we need to make sure we adapt to that change,” said Gareth Turpin, sales and retention director at O2. “We have regrouped and worked out how our stores and our tech can be used to help customers and staff. The result is a more personal service which also saves customer waiting time. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to our stores to see the changes for themselves.”
"Keeping our customers and our people safe is our number one priority, and we’ve been working tirelessly to introduce measures so everyone can be confident to visit our stores knowing that we can look after them and each other,” added Lee Frankham, BT Retail Director. “We’re thankful to our amazing retail colleagues who have been helping customers online during the past month, and we are looking forward to welcoming customers back to our stores.”
EE stores in Northern Ireland will reopen on June 8 in line with regulations in the country while operators await further guidance from the Scottish and Welsh governments.
Three and Vodafone have confirmed to TechRadar Pro that they will reopen stores in England on June 15 and will disclose more details in the near future.
However Virgin Media stores will not return to the high street. Since lockdown was imposed, the company has made the decision to move it sales and support operations online.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.